Descriptions to Moutern


Not certain if my memory of Phongsaly is real or fake.

Because the ends and starts of the conversations I observed in Moutern seemed similar enough that I think I might be misremembering the whole thing.

In my memory, discussions followed a schematic: a greeting and introduction (delivered in a particular fashion and with particular physical posturing), then the conversation proper (when the back-forth of the speakers’ exchange falls into a repetitive pattern where one person speaks while the other listens and performs reactive acknowledgement), and finally the winding down of the speaking (when sentences are short and staccato until one party chooses silence).

The beginnings and ends, with their apparently more defined behavioral rules, seemed to resemble each other because of those rules — likely because I couldn’t understand a single word being spoken.

Continue reading “Descriptions to Moutern”

An Agreement


A friend once observed that many bodies and forms live in us: heads and hands and hearts and lungs. And feet that we use to keep on walking.

After nearly two years of reflection, I agree.

Those bodies and forms dovetail into the one entire person that we each actually are.

It sounds simple but was by no means a straightforward process;
we were like a lump of unshaped clay at first (thank Earth for giving us even that much), born as funny-looking babies with oversized foreheads. Then we got molded and prodded into an adult-sized human and eventually hardened like molten lava into sulfurous igneous rock.

And so there we were for some time, thinking we’re all shapely and set in stone until an older soul points out that there’s more to us than just the outward form and that our various body parts are interrelated pieces of our overall whole.

Which is some wisdom, man.

But I totally agree — there are definitely sections and subsections to our whole-ness, you know?
And I also agree that changing physical locations can help a person better experience life because it puts them into situations where they’re obligated to use the multiple bodies of themself to cope or enjoy or feel.

The tough part, I figure, is uncovering which specific facet could and should be presented in each context. Like when walking down a dirt road like the one in Muang Mai for example, I would use my feet and eyes but also my ankles and toes to keep me from tripping on the larger rocks and holes. Easy enough. But when conversing in English, I definitely use my head and mouth and lips as well as my tongue and heart to hate and/or accept the person I’m talking with. That’s more ambiguous.

But, again, those body parts exist and are all incorporated into us regardless of what gets displayed on the outside, and that is like the truest affirmation of our clay-like selves I’ve ever heard.

So then maybe I’ll use a different metaphor from now on (like a conglomerate rock or a whitish-tan sandstone boulder flecked with differently sized pebbles…) and continue trying to embrace the forms and entirety of myself and others.

Friend, if you’re reading this, I want to let you know that my life has changed a lot and I imagine yours has too but I miss you like hell nonetheless. I hope you’ve kept your sandals dirty para seguir caminando.

Soweto: Scratching the Surface of A Rich Township


I am lucky enough to have a fellow ELCA global missionary friend who is in a year-long program called, Young Adults In Global Mission (YAGM), and is living in the largest and arguably most historical township in South Africa. She resides in Central Jabavu in the South West Township called Soweto, also known as the home of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Continue reading “Soweto: Scratching the Surface of A Rich Township”

Connected Remotely


The past few days have been a whirlwind of so many things happening at once.

There has been a lot of anxiety about when I get there, and how I will be able to find internet, phone cards, even drive a stick for the first time on the opposite side that I’m used to. But on the outside, the world is busy.

Continue reading “Connected Remotely”